The Soap Nut Eco-Revolution
Indian Soap Nuts are the berries of the sapindus mukorossi (soap nut tree) that predominantly grow in the Himalayan mountains of India and Nepal. The sapindus mukorossi grows a small fruit surrounded by a firm outer shell, much like a lychee, rambutan or berry. The outer shell is rich in natural saponins - a protection against fungus and bacteria. Saponin also happens to be a natural surfactant (detergent).
The fruit is harvested from September to February and dried in the sun, the natural way, without adding/using any chemicals. In fact, the whole process uses no fossil fuels either, except in the transportation of the product to the market or to the end user.
The presence of saponin in a shell is not that unusual, a little research will show you that many trees give some (the horse chestnut for one). It is just that the Sapindus family has more than most.
Native families in South Asian countries have used Soap Nuts for centuries to wash their own clothes. They put 2-3 shells in to a small cotton bag or in any other piece of cloth and work it in with their laundry. The Soapnuts absorb water and release their saponins, which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, reducing the surface tension of the water and freeing dirt, grime and soil from the clothing. When the clothes are rinsed the Soapnut's saponins are washed downstream where they remain harmless to the environment. No synthetic chemicals, no fragrance chemicals, no foaming agents, nor bleaching agents or other toxins. Just natural Soap nuts as grown by Mother Nature!
Why use Soap Nuts?
It is simple – Save money, save the planet, protect your family and children from chemical allergens.
Main Benefits :
- Much cheaper than chemical detergents
- Completely free of synthetic chemicals and perfumes.
- Clean clothes without fading the colours.
- Leaves everything so soft you don't need fabric conditioner.
- Harmless to the environment
- 100% ORGANIC - Soapods grow on trees, are 100% biodegradable and compostable.
- Great for people with skin allergies
- Many other cleaning applications
- No harmful chemicals draining into our water system
- Valuable Fair Trade business for Asian farmers
- Promote tree plantation an valuable O2 to the atmosphere
- Sustainable natural resource. – Soap Nut trees live up to 90 years and the wood and the foliage of the trees are also cultivated. No waste and no de-forestation.
How good are soap nuts as a washing agent?
You may have read elsewhere about their seemingly "magical" properties. The truth is, they work very well, about as well as normal non-bio detergent. Better in some cases i.e. delicates, silks, towels and nappies etc. For some stains like grease, or repeat washing of pure whites, soap nuts benefit from a little help i.e. a scoop of Sodium Carbonate (Washing Soda) helps to soften the water and boost the removal of heavy stains. Exactly like you would need for a standard non bio product. It will also help preventing lime scale building up in your machine. Even better is :- Sodium Percarbonate.
With soap nuts there is no need for fabric softener. Your clothes will come out beautifully soft. It is generally recognised that items such as towels, and certainly cloth nappies, should not be rinsed in fabric conditioner. It has the effect of coating the fibres and reduces their absorbency. Exactly what you don’t want! Commercial detergents cannot tell the difference between whites and colours, it coats them all. So your colours start to fade. With Soap Nuts you will not be saturating your clothes in "whitening agents", optical bleaches and unknown chemicals and enzymes. Your colours will start to look brighter as these "masking agents" are removed. Many people with sensitive skin have reported near immediate beneficial effects after trying natural soap nuts.